Monday June 20 2022
New essays: on Elizabeth Hardwick, one on the documentary films of Michael Blackwood, and something for Bookforum on Gary Indiana. If you skipped the Civilistjävel! interview on Friday, go back. You want that album.
25. I knew someone who was in a band in the Nineties. They got signed by a major label, cut a record. Then, as often happens, there was a shift in label management, or the promo staff thought it wouldn’t hit on radio: something went wrong, a few bad rolls of the dice. The record was shelved, never to be released; the band split up. But during this time, they worked with Mick Ronson. One night, without prompting, Ronson sat at a piano and played “Lady Stardust” for the band, letting the song roll through him.
The only person who’s made me feel less hopeless about America’s death cult of violent borgs is Patrick Blanchfield, not because he tells me I am wrong but because he is helping me figure out how the cult came to be. The publishing date of his book, Gunpower, has been pushed back several times; he just told me it is likely to arrive on Verso in early 2024. In the meantime, Blanchfield spoke for 20 minutes with Ian Masters and did 90 minutes for Know Your Enemy, both worth the time. His 2.5 hour Sunday service with Daniel Denver for The Dig, though, was my favorite. Fury, sadness, accuracy—all those things they told you journalism would be full of, lol.
I love Down + Out, “a compilation of downcast folk recordings, predominantly taken from private press releases from the US and UK between 1968-1980.” Compiled by Samuel Strang and Bruno Halper for NTS and mastered by Geoff Pasche at Abbey Road, this album is good for contemplating a pointlessly murderous world.
I’ve listened the two-hour set Philip Sherburne played at Primavera maybe nine times. Smooth octopus bitform fluidity and adequate cardio demands.
John Morrison’s Twitter thread of music documentaries on YouTube is a genuine resource. Shibuya-kei? I had no idea it was a thing that I already enjoy. (Distressing to hear the narrator say that sampling started with—wait for it—Stevie’s Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants and then moved on to—wait for it—DJ Shadow and then—one more time—to David Byrne and Brian Eno. I don’t know how the research could be so off but I am speculating that youth and starting at a computer rather than talking to your subjects are both to blame.) There are 55 films in this thread, which is more various and free than any festival down the block.
The new Keith Fullerton Whitman, GRM [Redactions] (17117), is two long tracks of chunked out grey and silver, sweet organic waveforms and digital whale rot.
Jump in—we gotta make it to the other side. If we get to 500 paid, I can stop calling you about your car warranty.
If you wonder what death cult borg American males do on their fruity millionaire weekends, this story by Rebecca Curtis, “Satellites,” is for you. It’s not that politically simple, but it is exquisite. Friend of The Blog Mary Kate said: “lorrie moore amy hempel joy williams vibes but for 2022.” If you have not read Curtis’s 2007 short story collection, Twenty Grand, get going. Also: please read Mary Gaitskill’s Substack, especially the post about fiction where she reads Nabokov aloud.
I’ve listened to Street Beats Volume 2 maybe twenty times in the last month. I need the activity and tonality of jungle to soften me up and let me believe things can be OK. This collection was originally released in 1994 as a series of 10-inch singles and I’m very glad that Ian Fenton told me about it.
How did the bowl become unstuck? You can look at all categories of maneuver: attempted, suggested, and successful. Who says there is no community now that Tumblr is gone!!!*